Words by Danny Draper
Photos Courtesy by Altercarnated Photography & Sonisphere Festival
We arrived on Thursday, to acquaint ourselves with the surroundings and get pitched up. The organisation of getting in (even as guests) was rather oblique and I feel sorry for any fans that had similar problems with getting in through the gates.
Apart from that, pretty smooth sailing. The food on offer was sublime; there was just about enough beer (hic!) and some good entertainment away from the music. We indulged in all of these on Thursday so that we’d have time to see the bands we wanted over the weekend. Top marks for entertainment Sonisphere, on stage and off it!
Friday 30th July
It’s a rough gig warming up a Friday crowd at a festival. Delain did themselves proud to a sombre crowd but failed to excite.
These guys were the first big hit of the weekend. Although having some technical difficulties with the guitars and vocals during the first song and then losing the violin over 3 songs, they managed to keep composure and ignite a flurry within the crowd with strong metal anthems. The singer even got a date with a blow-up hermaphrodite doll!
Brought some experience to the event with some classic rock! Playing some but not all of their heaviest tracks to the baying crowd, which included a cover of Superstitious/No Woman, No Cry. Almost expectedly, they end with an almighty rendition of “The Final Countdown” this got everyone jumping and singing. They are still a killer live band.
Europe showed the experience to entertain a crowd comes with age. Gary Numan and his band produced a thunderous ensemble. Ripping through a fair amount of heavy numbers, we were then greeted with the legendary songs like Cars and Are Friends Electric? to cap off a truly great performance.
Bringing the Theatre of Death to Sonisphere, Alice begins and ends with Schools Out. An all round entertaining performance, including a beheading! All the elements of Alice Coopers show were there, stage presence, entertainment and energy to keep the crowd going for ninety minutes and featuring some twenty-four songs. It had costume changes and songs were perfectly worked into the storyline. An epic show, something everyone should see!
Saturday 31st July
This band could have easily graced the main stage with tenacity.
Having recently reviewed their latest album “Coat of Arms”, I was hoping for a good performance. Boy oh boy did they deliver! A storming set, playing anthems that could crumble mountains and resurrect the gods, this band are amazing! Ripping renditions of “The Art of War” and “Cliffs of Gallipoli” they play with eternal smiles on their face and succeed in geeing up a very receptive crowd, I feel they could have given any band on the main stage today a run for their money.
Sadly, a lacklustre performance, plagued by bad sound and off key vocals.
There was no bite to the big chorus’s these guys can produce. Sadly, they were as awake as the crowd on this early slot. Epic fail.
None of the big four show signs of slowing down, an early stage time is a shame but with the original line-up blasting out classics, they cause and almighty ruckus. There was a fitting tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio with Heaven and Hell. Anthrax also promises a new album. Kick Ass!!
Gave us a treat with new song: “Kicked in the Teeth” as well as great renditions of Scars and Between Angels and Insects and the rest of their classics. Earning themselves a strong crowd with a good performance at midway through the festival.
Continuing on with in support of their new album Battle for the Sun Placebo hit the main stage with aplomb playing a host of now classics including Scared of Girls having not been played since 2001. The set included a great rendition of Nirvana’s All Apologies, providing some melancholy to the metal of the day’s proceedings.
The headliners of Saturday did and didn’t disappoint. Kicking off with a Rammlied and unveiling a huge German flag during the intro to the song to rapturous boo’s and cynical laughter, they crushed through their well choreographed set which featured a amazing Fruhling in Paris as well as such staples as Du Hast and Ich Will. With pyro everywhere, those seeing Rammstein were not disappointed; those who have may have felt under whelmed.
With an extended ending to Pussy where Til Lindemann covered the crowd in a toilet paper spray from his cannon and a Dingy carrying keyboardist Flake around the crowd for Ich tu de Weh, they left the stage a little early which left us all feeling amazed and weird from the show, yet satisfied.
Headlining the Bohemia stage where Therapy? After a few technical issues they ploughed through the entire Troublegum album.
The crowd were singing along to every track and loving every moment Therapy? were on the stage.
This was truly an amazing show by these veterans showing some of the younger bands how its really done!
Sunday 1st August
Skindred are one of the best live acts the UK has to offer. Also one of the shiniest as today’s attire suggests! Filled with comical respite from singer Benji Webbe, they get the crowd bouncing to their ragga-metal style featuring songs from their first two albums and ending with a crushing rendition of Nobody. Job well done!
SLAAAAAAYEEEEEEERRRR! A band that, if you like: they’ll never disappoint. It’s sad to see Tom Ayra not head banging due to his operation; he looks like a caged lion during the set. But the ferocity is still there during thunderous plays of Raining Blood and War Ensemble, which ignited a huge circle pit at centre stage. A diverse set of new and old, they should have been on later suggests Tom Ayra, but they tore the main stage a new one!
Alice in Chains
Having never been able to see original singer Layne Staley before he passed, I was interested to see these guys play. William Duvall did not disappoint in a front-man. A solid group of musicians, which played flawlessly throughout. Letting loose a host of old and new songs that mixed in perfectly, an essential reminders of a great era in music.
Some may have question what a Drum and Bass group were doing on the main stage of what you may call a rock/metal festival. But there is a place for everyone. They are just as metal as everyone else, perhaps even more so. Rob Swire and his band of merry men from down under crucified the early evening crowd with some lethal sounds. Bringing on Anders Friden from Inflames for Self vs. Self won the crowd over. Ending on a high with Blood Sugar, Propane Nightmares and Watercolour of their latest album Immersion, it felt like a small rave had just happened.
Well, here we are. The band that, you could argue, have set the standard over the last thirty years of how a band should operate. Their set contained a majority of material from their last three albums (Brave New World, Dance of Death and A Matter of Life and Death) in tribute to the new generation of fans that have found Maiden and call these albums their own. El Dorado, the first single from new album The Final Frontier was a treat, as well as Wrathchild from Killers and a stunning airing of Fear of the Dark and Iron Maiden.
Before taking a short break to return with an encore of The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Running Free.
Bruce said that “We are a community” and that “if the world was ruled by Metal, then it would be a far better place”. He isn’t wrong. An amazing end, to an amazing festival.
Roll on Sonisphere 2011!